As Europe grills Zuckerberg about Facebook, Nigel Farage lets slip some ‘secrets’ of his own

Nigel Farage
Fréa Lockley

On 22 May, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg faced live questions at the European Parliament. He offered an apology for recent data breaches and the misuse of personal information. These came to light following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But the speech from staunch anti-EU MEP Nigel Farage was quite astonishing.

“Your biggest client”

Farage opened by saying he was “the largest user of Facebook in all the EU institutions”, telling Zuckerberg “I’m your best client”.

People on Twitter noted Zuckerberg’s face as he said this:

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.

Also, it turns out what he said may have been misleading:

Farage then went on, without the slightest shred of irony, to say:

There is no way that Brexit, or Trump, or the Italian elections could ever possibly have happened. It was social media that allowed people to get round the back of mainstream media.

Again, people commented on Zuckerberg’s face at this point:

It’s not surprising that Zuckerberg pulled a face. Because Britain’s Electoral Commission has fined Leave.EU – backed by Farage and Arron Banks – £70,000, for “multiple breaches of electoral rules” in the Brexit campaign. And as the Guardian has reported, former Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser confirmed that:

the firm pitched “a very detailed strategy” to Leave.EU on how it could use data and psychological profiling to microtarget people likely to back Brexit in the referendum.

But Farage didn’t stop there.

“Right of centre”

Farage then went on to criticise recent Facebook changes and said:

Since January of this year, you’ve changed your modus operandi. You’ve changed your algorithms. And it has led directly to a very substantial drop in views and engagements for those that’ve got right-of-centre political opinions… on average, we’re down about 25%…

According to a BuzzFeed tech reporter, this wasn’t quite true either:

But Farage wouldn’t lie, surely?!?

Extremism

In questioning why his Facebook views were (apparently) down, Farage shared his thoughts [1.38]:

I’m not talking here… about extremism. I’m not talking about encouraging violence. I’m not talking about hatred of anybody.

Yes, Farage said that.

Hate crime

This is the same man who was accused of spreading “Nazi-style propaganda” with his Brexit ‘breaking point’ posters. He was the figurehead of a vicious Leave campaign which apparently led, according to the Guardian, to the worst “spike in hate crime… on record”. Reports of hate crime increased:

by 42%, to more than 3,000 allegations… across Britain in the week before and the week after the 23 June vote.

And let’s not forget some of Farage’s other ‘best moments’.

  • In 2015, he called for the army to tackle the “virtually lawless” refugees in Calais.
  • He suggested people with HIV should be banned from entering the UK.
  • Channel 4 News found evidence that his school teachers stated he held “publicly professed racist and neo-fascist views”.
  • He said he would feel “concerned” if a Romanian family were to move in next door.
  • Following the referendum result, he boasted that it was won “without a single bullet being fired” – just days after the murder of MP Jo Cox.

“Who are these people?”

Farage is convinced that Facebook isn’t impartial. He demanded to know “who are these people?” because, apparently, they limit his free speech.

Other MEPs, meanwhile, asked Zuckerberg a range of serious and pertinent questions. Unfortunately, most went unanswered.

But Farage openly admitted that Facebook helped to win Brexit. So at least one question was answered, even if not by Zuckerberg.

Get Involved!

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via screengrab

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support

Comments are closed